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98% reading reactions, 5% book reviews. (We can math, too.)

Currently reading

Suzanne Collins
Language in Thought and Action
S.I. Hayakawa, Alan R. Hayakawa, Robert MacNeil
Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
Daniel L. Everett
Gulliver's Travels (Signet Classics)
Jonathan Swift

The War of the Worlds (Atria Books)

The War of the Worlds (Atria Books) - H.G. Wells I listened to the audiobook, which helped me get through the slow beginning and some of the dry parts--the narrator did an excellent job with the performance and various voices of characters. When I think that this book was written before the 20th century began, I'm truly amazed. Martians invading earth seems trite now, but Wells was a visionary to write all this when he did. Some of the material, like his account of the Martian anatomy, his descriptions of people evacuating en masse, were riveting. But they're spaced out by periods of the narrator's story, which sometimes had more detail and introspection than I cared for. Anyway, idea is 5/5, but this book was not my thing.

Drive Me Wild

Drive Me Wild - Christine Warren A great addition to the Others series. Rafe and Tess have always been my favorite couple of Warren's, and I was excited to see them get their own book. I finished it in two days (could have been one if I hadn't started so late in the afternoon).

Rating: The non-romantic part of the plot is anticlimactic, and some of the writing could use a trim, but it was a page turner for sure.

Drinking Game Ideas: take one sip for every herb mentioned that you are unfamiliar with, take a sip for every time you read the word gatita, take a gulp whenever someone mentions directions to Bellevue, and chug when the insane villain appears

Daughter of the Earth and Sky

Daughter of the Earth and Sky - Kaitlin Bevis If Persephone had just started the sequel with "I will never swear fealty to Zeus," that might have solved 3/4 of her issues in this book. Or at least 1/2. I don't know. I came into this book really excited, but grew more and more frustrated when I realized that all her problems hinged on her "OOPS!" from the previous book. And the pages of misery continued and continued and CONTINUED... not to mention the cliffhanger ending that resolved nothing.

After a great experience with the first book, I really am disappointed by this one. I'm actually glad that so many here gave the book high ratings because the author does deserve to be read. Maybe I'll come back for a different book of hers, but I'm done with this series.


Persephone - Kaitlin Bevis The Persephone story is one of my favorites, and this was a very interesting take on it. I finished it in 24 hours, which is quite speedy for someone like me. There are times when it comes close to breaking the genre mold, but it falls back on trite dialogue or too familiar plot twists. (Also, why do all the underworld denizens--including Hades--talk like they're 17-year-old girls?) Still, Persephone is a unique take on the usual YA narrator--not only is she vegan and obsessed with daisies, but she goes through a strong maturation arc too. And Hades, well... all things considered, I can forgive his speech lapses.

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization - Alex Irvine Fills in a lot of spaces that I wondered about after watching the movie. Also enjoyed the more in-depth treatment of side characters like Newt and Pentecost. Writing, however, seems to be full of invented technical jargon that was hard to imagine. Oh well.


Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell I don't give 5 stars often, but this book earned every one. I loved the characters and their development as the story progressed. It was a sad surprise when I got to the last page--I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend. And that's really how reading a 5-star book should make you feel.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey I wanted to like this book. I did. I liked Lucius in the beginning, but then love triangles and teenage angst. Such denial. Very Twilight. Much New Moon. Late climax. Sudden end. Wow.

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky  - Veronica Rossi I liked Aria's character. Not initially, but she grew on me. She demonstrates bravery, vulnerability, resourcefulness, and determination by turns. Perry could be frustrating at times with his lack of emotion, but he grew on me too. The world is well developed and so were the characters, and the plot leaves enough room for the rest of the trilogy. The writing is vivid without being overly descriptive, which takes skill. My only hangup is that for some reason the book felt like it moved too slowly. Maybe the next book will have more momentum.

Swimming Without a Net

Swimming Without a Net - MaryJanice Davidson Stands on its own as a sequel, though ending fell a little flat. Pleased with her choice of lover, though disappointed more didn't come out of the other option. Fred seems to mature in this book, which is good. And, as always, laughs aplenty. What will the third book hold?

Of Poseidon

Of Poseidon  - Anna Banks MC: Emma was okay. Overabundant snark aside, she's pretty plucky and self-aware, and I can respect that. Sometimes her narration did make me lol.

POV: It switches between 1st person Emma (present tense) and 3rd person Galen (also present tense). Awkward/not awkward...?

Plot: Main source of tension (cough prearranged marriage mucking things up cough) was thin at first, but it seems to finally hold some water in the last 30 pages of the book when the plot finally starts coalescing. Felt like the book was just getting interesting, and then it ended.

Overall, decent debut. Books are hard to write and even harder to publish, so hats off to the author for both. I was engaged for the most part, and there were some interesting developments. Re: any built-in marketing ploys, I guess I did get suckered into reading book two... Of Poseidon gets 2.5 stars because of uneven pacing and b/c Galen sometimes behaved like a controlling jerk. (For the record, I'm on team Toraf.)

Going Postal

Going Postal - Terry Pratchett This review is for the audiobook narrated by Stephen Briggs.
The only Discworld book I'd encountered before this was Monstrous Regiment, and it wasn't really my thing--so I had minimal expectations for Going Postal. I'm glad I gave it a chance though because I found it to be delightfully witty. The characters were easy to like and connect to, and Prachett is good at quick, effective characterization. Briggs's narration was especially fun to listen to because of all the voices he does. Overall, highly entertaining!

The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone - T.H. White I picked this up because I like the Disney movie and didn't know that it was based on a book. The novel is episodic with no real overarching story, sort of like the movie; it could have been titled The Early Adventures of King Arthur. The first half of the adventures I liked very much--the Robin Hood arc actually had my heart beating faster. It could just be me, but I was ready for the book to be over by the time Wart turned into an owl and a badger (around page 200)…. The "Sword in the Stone" part of the novel actually doesn't happen until the last 10 pages or so. In the version of the book I read, Dennis Nolan's illustrations were quite beautiful. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this read.

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer - Robert Swartwood, Kathleen Ryan, Donora Hillard, Mercedes M. Yardley, Barry Napier, Jeremy D. Brooks, Tara Deal, Jane Hammons, Randall Brown, Val Gryphin, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Sophie Playle I read this in about an hour. It's fantastic--the entire time I was cringing or making sad faces or laughing or penning emoticons in the margins. I'm awed by how much the authors manage to convey in so few words. Some of the pieces in the "Love and Hate" section do fall flat, probably because it's hard to write about love without relying on unsurprising tropes. But that's my only complaint, really. Most of the stories manage to be touching, thoughtful, or shocking--impactive in some way, likable or otherwise.

Read it.

Common notes in my table of contents:
- ouch!
- O_O
- EW
- EW!!!!
- ?
- !?!
- ; - ;

The Son of Neptune

The Son of Neptune - Rick Riordan How I Would Explain This Book to Someone Outside the Percy Jackson Fandom

Three teens descended from Greek/Roman gods—Percy, Hazel, and Frank—go on a quest to free the death god Thanatos from his prison in Alaska, a land beyond the gods. The main quest zips through San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and the Alaskan version of quicksand; expect giants to be destroyed and some weird (but fun) relationships to form. Along the way, the questers unravel more of the Prophecy of Seven, which foretells gods and demigods uniting to defeat Gaea, the evil Earth Mother. The moral of the story is that Gaea still has contingency plans.

In Short

This is definitely a sequel that doesn’t suck.


When I read The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1), I was lukewarm about Jason, Leo, and Piper. Aside from Leo, Piper and Jason seemed too perfect to be really interesting. Son of Neptune does a character 180 with the addition of Hazel and Frank. These two are typical underdogs: Hazel is young and relatively inexperienced, and Frank is big, clumsy, and clueless about his demigod abilities. Both are ostracized by their peers because of their ineptitude and hard luck. It’s hard not to be on their side just because they don’t have much going for them.

Hazel Levesque was a delightful surprise. I expected her to be another girl with a guilt complex (coughPipercough), but she turns out to be quite plucky, witty, courageous, and vulnerable by turns. She starts out as someone who can barely make friends because of secrets she’s keeping—she grows into a heroine who takes responsibility by charging her past mistakes on horseback (no, really, this happens). To top it all off, she’s only 13 years old. In Latin, Hazel’s name is spelled w-h-o-a.

My assessment of Frank Zhang is personal because I’m writing as an fifth-generation Asian-American and he’s a fourth- or fifth-generation Asian-Canadian. Before I read this book, I hadn’t realized how nice it would be to read about a hero who was kind of like me, at least in terms of ethnicity. Frank manages to be Chinese, but because he’s so removed from his first-generation ancestors, he thinks of himself as mosty Canadian. Toss in some godly heritage, and Frank is a young man with extreme identity issues. The weird thing is I totally get that (minus, of course, the whole godly parent thing). Frank’s real-world ethnic tensions mirror the tensions with his godly heritage, which, overall, is a brilliant move on Riordan’s part and well executed. I’m jealous I didn’t think to invent Frank myself.

Percy hasn’t changed much since his younger days, though he sounds a bit older now. It was nice to see him making new friends and even nicer to see him being saved by them. I’m really looking forward to seeing his development as a leader in the next book.

Writing Quality

Can I just take a moment to lift my glass of OJ and give a “Hail Rick Riordan”? He is such a treat to read. I’ve spent long hours filled with anguish over writers who rely on heavy sarcasm to carry the book to its end. Riordan doesn’t do that. His humor is as fresh and unassuming as it was in the original series. When it’s funny, the book generally reads like this:

… what unnerved him more was that sleeping woman’s face in the hills. You will be my pawn. Percy didn’t play chess, but he was pretty sure that being a pawn was bad. They died a lot.

“Um… is that thing tame?” Frank said.
The horse whinnied angrily.
“I don’t think so,” Percy guessed. “He just said, ‘I will trample you to death, silly Chinese Canadian baby man.’”

I’d also like to excerpt a startling line of imagery that I had to read several times for its loveliness:

Frank stared up at the northern lights, still cooking across the stars on low heat.

Despite my love for Riordan’s writing, the prose flags around page 400. It starts with Percy getting unusually sappy and thinking how Person A should definitely get together with Person B (clearly obvious that A and B should get together, but is it in character for Percy to ruminate on it?). Characters also became overly concerned with personal hygiene. I kept thinking Okay guys, we’re on a four day deadline here, you have giants to kill, there are cannibals outside, and you’re taking a shower…?

Four Star Reservations

If it weren’t for the last 100 pages, this book would have gotten 5/5 from me. Son of Neptune spends too many pages building up to a confrontation that ends with more spit and fizzle than fire and smoke. The buildup simply outweighed the payoff. Fortunately, the reader is in good company for all 500-something pages, and this book definitely gets a Best Fictional Cast award. Even better, it flings wide the doors of the franchise and screams “THE JACKSON IS BACK IN THE HOUSE!” Bring it on, Mark of Athena—I’m ready >:D

Read this and other book reviews at The Matchbook blog.

Everneath 1

Everneath 1 - Brodi' 'Ashton In Short
If you're looking for a standard YA paranormal romance, you'll probably be happy with Everneath. The book takes about 150 pages to get going, but it stays faithful to the usual genre tropes, such as having a love triangle, a persistently loyal love interest, and a mercurial immortal who mucks up normal life. If you're not looking for any of these things, you might not enjoy this book.

How I Explained This Book to My Mother
It's a reimagining of the Persephone and Hades story. This girl Nikki goes down into the Underworld (called the Everneath), and then she manages to escape back to the surface world… except this immortal guy Cole follows her and he's all "BE MY UNDERWORLD QUEEN," but Nikki says no because she's obsessed with her old (non-immortal) boyfriend Jack. Nikki then spends six months (sort of) figuring out how not to get sucked back into the Everneath. The moral of the story is that heroes do exist.

Writing Quality
Nikki narrates the book in first person. At her most melodramatic, she sounds like this (names removed to avoid spoilers, hopefully):

Separating from him now would be worse than anything I'd felt before. Separating from him now would make me bleed, and I would never stop.

I couldn't speak as to what occupied _____'s mind on that drive, but I knew what I was hoping for. That ____ would be able to recover. That he would heal. That those who loved him would soon repair the broken sheathing around his raw soul . . .

On the other hand, there are surprising and authentic moments to savor, such as these:

"And when something surprises you and you don't know what to say, you get a tiny wrinkle in between your eyebrows." I reached up to touch the divot, then hesitated and lowered my hands. "It showed on the day the coach told you you'd made first-string quarterback. And it's showing now."

_____ was looking at me with a strange expression on his face.
"Whoa. You are the happiest sad person I've ever met."
"Or the saddest happy person." . . .
I tried a smile, so he couldn't see how close he really was to the truth. "I'm not sad."
"And she's not afraid to lie."

Do the Plot Lurch
This story is 370 pages and covers approximately six months of time in the surface world, including flashbacks here and there to a time before Nikki went to the Everneath. The book takes its time winding through the first four months, and then it tries to resolve all the reader's questions in the last 150ish pages. In the final weeks before she faces return to the Everneath, Nikki Googles a lot of weird things (i.e., "how to escape the Tunnels"), finally elicits answers from some people in town, and goes on a tangential quest to find the significance of a silver bracelet. The book spends a long time building up to answers—so long, I think, that the answers don't quite pay off in the end.

Two Star Reservations
Everneath gets a 2/5 from me because while the premise is original, the book avoids grappling with real emotional material that would have made it better. Nikki never deals with the true loss she's suffered in the past, nor does she make significant attempts to rebuild family relationships or friendships that she claims to value. I think she might have two meaningful (or almost meaningful) conversations with her dad, one coffee chat with her best friend Jules, and one afternoon with her 10-year-old brother. I get that this is a romance story, so it's fair for Nikki to be obsessed with Jack. But I wanted so much more for her—I wanted her to sit down and do at least some hard work of facing grief and trauma, of piecing together parts of her life that were as important as her relationship with Jack. Maybe I'm expecting too much of a genre book, but I'd have been happy if there were even 10 more pages of Nikki's other relationships. Is that too much to ask…?

Fans of the Vampire Diaries and the Twilight Saga will probably enjoy Everneath, even though there are no vampires. The books have heroines with similar voices, attitudes, and backgrounds, and the plots involve temptation by dark and dangerous immortals.

You can read the extended review and other book musings at The Matchbook.


Fire - Kristin Cashore I enjoyed Fire immensely. It was well-paced and the characters were more developed than those in Graceling. Fire reminds me of a more mature Katsa, and although her extreme beauty can cause credulity (or, rather, incredulity) issues, she makes a satisfying protagonist. Plot-wise, the story doesn't have many slow patches at all; there were a ton of great twists towards the end. I think this second novel truly showcases Cashore's skills as a writer. I look forward to her next work :] !